Archives for posts with tag: you have choices

Sick time activities tend on the easy low-effort side, for me, and I’ve spent quite a lot of time the last few days (between naps and hot showers) looking over pictures of previous camping trips to the same general location I’ll be going next. I noticed fairly quickly that “the numbers don’t add up” – the campsites are numbered, and I reliably snap a picture of the site I’ve selected, and note the number in my itinerary and various writings. I tend to favor sites that are the most distant from other campers, wherever I go. As I’ve said before; I go for the solitude. 🙂

Like, seriously, out among the trees, camped surrounded by dense tall nettles. Manufactured solitude. 😀

During the pandemic, I didn’t get much camping in. (Duh) There was that last trip in August 2019 – before the pandemic – and then “at long last” another in August 2021, when pandemic restrictions were beginning to lift (rather briefly, as I recall, before returning for some while…I hope I am remembering that correctly). That most recent trip was not down into the deeper, quieter, hike-in camping – that camp ground was closed for substantial repairs, and even the trail down into that area was closed. There had been some serious storms that took down trees, flooded trails, and caused a lot of damage (I read, but did not see for myself). When I went to book my upcoming trip, I noticed something odd… there was a particular site I was considering reserving… only… it didn’t exist on the map at all, now. Actually – there are two fewer sites than there had been, and two of those that were removed were among the four sites that were singularly “remote” (by a notable distance) from the others (and each other). One of these now-missing sites was one I greatly enjoyed. Change is. The other I hadn’t yet tried out, but found visually very pleasing, and had considered it more than once. These changes briefly tested my sanity; could I really be remembering things this incorrectly?? Could I be so wrong about where that site was??

This is no longer site #9. This is the past. Gone now.
This site is gone, too. I wonder what reminder of the past may linger there now?

Now there are just two sites in the hike-in campground that truly stand out as being quite a bit more distant from any other camp sites. One of those is a “walk-in only” and can’t be reserved at all (and is generally occupied any time I’ve gone there). The other? My personal favorite spot. The thing that I found amusing-confusing is that the numbering (of course) had to be updated to “make sense” on the ground for folks seeking their reserved site… and now, the carefully recording numbering of prior visits that I see in my notes and pictures makes no sense; it doesn’t match the map as it exists now. My preferred site was #23, which “no longer exists” but strictly speaking it’s right there on the map – just bearing a different number. So many lovely visits to #23… only… now it’ll be #21, and of course the one trip I had previously made to #21 would be better numbered, now, as #17. Sites #22 and #9, as they had existed, are simply gone now. There is no need for a #22 at all and #9 is attached to a different site altogether. Vexing. But… change is. These are certainly the sorts of changes that can screw with a person’s memories of the past, though. lol

Sometimes I get hung up on such details. What something is called now versus what it used to be named. Street names. Business locations. Changes in which streets are one-way. I sometimes struggle to reconcile what I recall with what I see in front of me. I don’t think that’s unique or unusual; I think we all deal with it because change is. Sorting out these photos and getting them organized by camping trip has been fun and I love the reminders of each one. The pictures take me back down trails as they once were, and each visit has its utterly unique and splendidly different moments… on the same trails. Different weather. Different light. Different flowers in bloom. New or old signs. Well-maintained or falling into disrepair. These small variations don’t reflect “poor memory for details” at all, they simply remind me that “change is”, and that this affects us all, with every experience. The map is not the world. The trail is not the hike. Each moment is an experience all its own.

Still the same favorite, but the number has changed. LOL It’ll be #21 on the new map. The map is not the world.

I’ve camped at this place in March. I found it a bit chilly (and definitely unpleasantly so at night). It was rainy. I find that I would rather wait for later weeks, generally, instead of camping in March. lol

I’ve camped here in May. May was also rainy, but the nights were pretty comfortable, and the thimbleberries along the trails were ripe. It’s a lovely time for wildflowers. The trails are sometimes muddy.

I’ve camped here in July. The summer heat often hasn’t really gotten going, and everything is lush and green, and the trails are dry and easy to walk.

I’ve camped here in August, several times. Comfortable nights, followed by cool mornings well-suited to long hikes. The afternoons are hot – good for napping after a hike. The birdsong, crickets, and peeping frogs make a delightful racket.

I’ve camped here in September a couple times, too. Chilly evenings develop from warm afternoons. Sometimes it has rained briefly, most often it has been dry. Creeks are at their lowest flow. Trails are dry, and so are the meadow grasses. A few wildflowers remain.

Funny thing… while it makes quite a bit of sense that I don’t typically camp earlier than March (don’t like being cold all the time)… looking over my photos, I am a little surprised to see that I have not camped later than mid-September, either. Why is that so odd? Well, the weather around this location is quite mild and suited to camping well into November before it begins getting properly chilly again. Not that it matters relative to most other things, I just found it peculiar, and find myself wondering if I should plan something for October this year? Catch the autumn in her glory, perhaps?

What I was getting to, though, is that each experience has been quite different for reasons other than camp site or season. That March trip? It was dreadful, and I cut it short. I was out there primarily doing a “gear check” for longer more remote trips into wilderness areas with only dispersed camping available, and no “conveniences” (like potable water and vault toilets). I utterly failed to be adequately prepared even for the chill of a pleasant March weekend. lol I forgot my coffee. (Nooooooo!) Seriously? I even forgot any sort of hot beverage, even tea or broth. Forgot my bee sting kit (omg, bees in March??). Couldn’t start a fire – just, for whatever reason, completely forgot how to make that happen on this whole other “do not go solo camping you nitwit” level. The ultra-light cot I had such high hopes for? Flimsy and would not support my weight. Fucking hell. After one overnight I was tired, stressed, and miserable. After two? I called my Traveling Partner to come get me. Embarrassing. I still get occasional teasing about that one. lol

Most of my camping trips are just excuses to hit trails I can’t easily reach on a weekend morning, and to get away for some “me time” and take pictures of flowers. They sort of blend together – until I see the pictures, and look back on each trip as its own thing. A singular experience. Each one of them is quite different, and by making a practice of savoring every pleasant moment at great length, my longer-term memory of all of them is of these wonderful experiences out among the trees – even that March trip.

How often do we taint our memories of the life we live by focusing on the shittiest moments with the whole of our attention, picking them apart, re-analyzing them, talking and writing about them at length, thinking of them often – while failing to do the same for all the pleasant ones? When I stopped doing that, and started putting more of my focus on the choice moments, joyful moments, a-ha moments, and wow moments instead, my experience of life over-all improved quite a lot. I recommend it. When I catch myself ruminating on some bullshit moment of chaos or unhappiness, I make a point to follow that with reflections on lovely moments. Legit. Real. Mine. Doing this has definitely changed my “implicit memory” of life and the world for the better. It’s a choice I make regularly. It’s been very effective as a strategy for ensuring that life feels worth living, every day. Figured I’d share that with you. 🙂 I hope you find it helpful.

…The tl;dr? Don’t get mired in your own bullshit. Reflect on your joys, your wins, what works, and what you love. Take time for that. Sip your coffee (or tea, or… you know, whatever you like) and focus on what delights you in your surroundings right now. I mean… I’m not telling you what to do, just sharing what has been working for me. 🙂 You’re walking your own path, of your own choosing. You can begin again.

Choose your path and walk it. Your results may vary.

Are you having a rough time of things, right now? Is life feeling more complicated than you’d like? Do you feel attacked on all sides? Trapped? Frustrated? Hung up on some detail that is not even a thing that has actually happened yet? Hung up on some detail already in the past? I’ve been there. I’m not there right now. I may, however, be there sometime again in the future, and I have thoughts on dealing with that. 🙂

Be present in this moment. Breathe. 

Yep. Take some deep breathes. Let go of the past; it’s behind you already, and you can move on from it. Let go of the future; it hasn’t happened yet, and it’s not predetermined. Consider new choices, and take the actions that allow you to continue to grow in the direction of becoming the person you most want to be. Who is that?

Read a book. Chill for awhile and let your mind be empty. Watch the clouds, the rustling leaves, the pigeons in a park, the rain falling on the other side of a window. Breathe, exhale, relax. Let go of clinging and attachment. Let go of assumptions and expectations. Be. Be present. Be aware. Be your own friend. Take steps. Take a step back, for perspective. Take a step forward, for growth. Live your journey with your eyes wide open. 🙂

Maybe a walk in the sunshine, considering the many options?

Sometimes the way ahead is difficult. Sometimes the difficulties are ones we’ve created for ourselves. Why that is, is probably less important than what we do about it. It’s your path to walk – you get to choose the route. 🙂

I sit here sipping my morning coffee; my Traveling Partner noted that it seems that the burr grinder needs to be given some care and maintenance. My coffee agrees with him. The next step would seem to be to do something about that. Sometimes the challenges are fairly simple. Sometimes the complications in life come from within us. I smile and listen to the traffic on the roadway.

My shoulder aches. A lurching bus in rush hour traffic yesterday evening provided notable additional pain, and set back my recovery time a bit. I remind myself to spend more time with that arm in a sling – and less time trying to use it. Still… it’s a new day. I have choices ahead of me that will determine what I make of it, and where my path will lead.

Time to take that next step, and begin again. 🙂

It’s here. The longest day. The shortest night. A dim-not-dark pre-dawn sky. A sunset will follow later, so much later, and then a lingering twilight late into the night – then, Summer, Fall, Winter… the wheel keeps turning.

Summer Solstice, 2018, before dawn

Yesterday ended on a bizarrely anxious note. It’s really super uncomfortable having to recognize that the United States is squirming as the government leads in the direction of fascism, while the population struggles to resist. Uncomfortable barely describes it. I was able to sleep, which brought relief, and I am exceedingly fortunate, individually. That’s something. Yesterday was hot. I took cases of bottled water to protesters downtown on my way home from work. I thanked them for being there. The traffic home was pretty terrible, but I didn’t feel it so much as I felt I’d done something to help.

…Of course, halfway home, I found myself facing a critical inner voice reminding me that plastic water bottles are an ecological nightmare… and companies that bottle water are draining life-force (and life-giving water) from communities all over the globe for profit. Shit. This is harder than it looks.

The anxiety had me in its grip well before I got home. Every conversation I’d had at work resurfaced to be re-evaluated through a lens of insecurity, panic, and fear. Every decision got questioned. Every moment reviewed, critiqued, and used to build further fear-driven anxious narrative in my head. I got home, heart pounding, breathless, and on the edge of a panic attack, doing battle with myself. I fluttered around the apartment distracted and wretched for a few minutes – the air conditioning was a relief, and in that moment of appreciation, I found a hint of relief, something to hold onto for just a moment.

I took a deep breath, and felt myself relax as the coolness in the house wrapped me, and soothed me (it was a really hot day here). I stood looking out at the container garden, still feeling anxious, and aware of the hot day on the other side of the glass. “Right, well, I can at least water the garden, even if everything feels crazy right now – no reason to punish flowers…” Out into the heat I went, but the awareness of the waiting air conditioning was working on my mind in a nice way; I knew I would be comfortable again, soon. I slowed down. Took my time to really water everything thoroughly. I filled feeders. I rinsed and re-filled bird-baths. I tidied and swept. I weeded some pots, removing still more peanuts that had sprouted, thanks to busy squirrels.

I returned to the coolness indoors considerably calmed. The anxiety came and went a bit all evening. More like a nuisance neighbor I’m on good terms with, but would rather not see all the time, than like an attacker that has overpowered me. I felt content with the improvement, and sleep came easily when time came to sleep. I woke feeling rested, and ready to start a new day…

It is the Solstice, today. Hell of a good day to begin again. America is still full of Nazis – we ought to do something about that. We can. We have choices. 🙂

I have choices. So many choices – in life, in work, in relationships. There are so many verbs involved. Keeping up takes effort, practice, commitment… omg, just spelling it out, it all seems so daunting! One thing at a time, though? Not so bad. I don’t need to “fix” an entire broken world – or even this one entire broken human being staring back at me in the mirror. That’s no longer my approach at all – I just need to water my garden. Maybe tidy up a bit. Do a little weeding. Meditate for a few minutes. Get some dishes done. It’s just one thing, not everything, right now, all the time. “Everything“is super hard – I mean, have you seen all the shit that needs something done about it?? Too much. All that’s needed, really, is “enough”. 😉

I think I’m ready to begin again. 🙂

This morning, before I quite realized what I’d done, I’d gotten lost in my newsfeed within moments of sitting down to write. I didn’t write. Well, I did write – but I wasn’t writing in a rational, purposeful, helpful way that supports me as a human, or shares something of value. I was mad. I was… posting replies. Oh my.

Once I noticed I was putting myself at risk of an angry screed, I pushed my chair back, sat fully upright, and took a couple deep deep cleansing breaths, and let myself relax. I held on to the awareness of that moment, breaking free of the tantalizing sticky trap of opinion, pulling myself free of the outrage machinery. (There is so much to be outraged about this days, no lie, that’s real.) Differences of opinion so easily become anger. We each feel so certain we are “right“, and that if only we could share the nuances of our personal perspective, everyone else would get it, too! While that may be true, now and then, it mostly just isn’t, at all. We are each having our own experience. It’s not actually fully share-able.

Don’t misunderstand, I’m not a “relativist“. While I do recognize that context, culture, and variations in human understanding and experience can change the truth of a proposition, I also understand the nature of reality to have unchanging elements (that I may or may not be fully able to recognize or understand, myself). I think how we define the terms we use matters a great deal, and definitely affects our ability to have meaning dialogue, generally, every bit as much as “the nature of reality”. I have an ethical framework, as an individual, that suggests to me that some actions and choices are “wrong” – meaning, not consistent with my ethics, as an individual. So far so good. Where things get messy, and I think this is true for a great many of us, is when my own sense of “wrongness” pressures me from within to make a point of calling it out when I see others taking those actions, or making those choices. Do I really get to decide right vs wrong for anyone but me?

Yes.

…Also, no.

So… “yes”, in the limited sense that I’m utterly free to express my opinion on the matter. However, in doing so, I’m a wiser happier human if I can also remain aware that my opinion on such things is not likely to a) change anyone else’s opinion (or actions) or b) have any great persuasive weight in the world, generally, and also… c) it’s not for me to decide what everyone else will think or do. I’m just saying. I mean that – I’m literally merely, simply, only, and “just” saying words. Someone may hear my words and change. Someone else may hear my words and double-down out of pure resentment and fury, because in their view I am clearly wrong. Still someone else will disregard my words without ever hearing me out,. We are each having our own experience. I don’t really get to decide what anyone else understands right or wrong to be – but I am not required to respect, value, share, or appreciate their perspective, beyond hearing them out, and accepting their agency.

I don’t personally take any of this to be an expression of futility, or as a reason to “stand down” or “keep my opinion to myself”, because humanity’s culture has formed around our opinions and understanding of the world. Our shared ethical commitments become our shared understanding of right vs wrong, and ultimately informs entire communities, and whole nations, allowing society to enact change. We do need to share our individual sense of right vs. wrong with each other to help steer this cultural ship through the waters of change and growth over time. It’s the anger and outrage of social media specifically (before coffee) that is problematic; too much noise, not enough signal. So, I give myself a break, sip my coffee, and bring my moment closer to home. I have plenty to do to make change happen right here. I have work to do to be the woman I most want to be. That’s a project I have real influence over – every day. My example, as an individual, has meaning without extending my reach “to the world” by replying to all manner of media detritus in a reactive moment. Hell, I don’t even respect the opinions of 100% of every human; some are worth far more than others (this is likely true for you as well), and we each “rate” the value of another person’s opinion on different criteria!! (Totally true, too.) So… another good moment to practice non-attachment. lol

I finish my coffee and begin again.